Chapter 1275: Caught Off Guard!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The court began to buzz with chatter. All the officials were stunned by Wang Chong’s proposal, none having expected him to suddenly step forward and drag King Qi in with him.
King Song and Minister of War Zhangchou Jianqiong were also taken aback. It was obvious that Wang Chong had not discussed this move with them beforehand.
King Qi was stunned at first, but he quickly came to his senses, his face turning savage as he ground his teeth.
This matter had already been submitted to the court as a memorial. King Song, in his capacity as co-regent, had clearly already seen it. But even though the matter of He Qingrong had been leaked, King Qi was not worried. He had already planned everything out, and Minister of Rites Pei Cunyi was one of his important pieces in this plan. But he had never expected Wang Chong to unreasonably drag him into the debate.
“Wang Chong, have you lost your mind? This king is a member of the imperial household, possessing an esteemed and noble status. And you would have me oversee an irrigation project?”
King Qi was utterly furious. Their battle at the Penal Court had already caused quite a stir amongst the officials, and now, Wang Chong was attacking him in front of the entire court, even proposing that a mighty King like him should oversee an irrigation project. This was an absolute humiliation that made King Qi hate Wang Chong down to his bones.
Wang Chong glanced at Zhang Lianchong and lightly said, “Heh, I hear that King Qi has gathered talented subjects throughout the realm, and that King Qi is modest and studious, having even studied irrigation. You even invited Minister of Works Zhang Lianchong to your residence. Was King Qi not precisely discussing irrigation with Lord Zhang?”
King Qi immediately felt stifled, and he was not the only one. A look of apprehension appeared on the face of Minister of Works Zhang Lianchong.
In today’s court debate, the original plan was for him to follow up Minister of Rites Pei Cunyi, the two of them working together to pressure He Qingrong to leave the court. But with Wang Chong’s statement, Zhang Lianchong was forced to take a step back and remain silent. Otherwise, he would be proving Wang Chong’s statements and be suspected of colluding with King Qi.
For a moment, the entire hall was silent. From the reactions of King Qi and Zhang Lianchong, even the slowest person understood what was going on.
It was clear that the two of them had been colluding for some time!
Wang Chong had said that King Qi and Zhang Liangchong had been discussing irrigation in his residence, and at this time, King Qi didn’t even have the option of retorting!
Bastard! One day, this king will tear you to pieces!
King Qi resentfully glared.
Hahaha, great! Wang Chong, this king knew that you had a reason for doing this!
King Song was the first to realize what was going on, finally understanding why Wang Chong had interrupted Pei Cunyi. Not even King Song had known that King Qi had recently been colluding with Minister of Works Zhang Lianchong, recruiting him so that he could push out He Qingrong.
It was probably Wang Chong’s subordinates that had investigated this.
“Your Highness, this lowly subject believes that there are people better-qualified to supervise the Jiangnan irrigation project. As for He Qingrong, one’s filial duties cannot be discarded, nor can matters of state. This subject proposes that He Qingrong be permitted two months of vacation to return to Jiangnan and visit his mother. Once his mother has recovered, he can return to the capital,” Wang Chong said.
He Qingrong’s mother had only caught a cold, and her condition wasn’t serious. For He Qingrong to go home and visit his mother and return once she had recovered was the best compromise available. The cold was not a major illness, and by the time He Qingrong returned home, it would probably already be resolved.
Suddenly a voice came from above. “He Qingrong, what is your opinion?” The silent and unmoving figure of the Grand Preceptor had suddenly stood up from his chair.
This sudden action caught everyone off guard. The abrupt quarrel between Wang Chong and King Qi had taken up so much attention that no one had expected the Grand Preceptor to speak at this time. Unlike before, the Grand Preceptor was extremely calm and less intense. His first words were not to support the idea that He Qingrong should go to Jiangnan to supervise the irrigation project, but asking He Qingrong his opinion.
He Qingrong was a member of King Song’s faction, and in normal circumstances, if the Grand Preceptor were to ask for his opinion, He Qingrong would naturally object. But for some reason, Wang Chong had a bad feeling.
Almost subconsciously, Wang Chong turned to look and saw that He Qingrong had his head lowered. He did not immediately voice his objection and appeared to be greatly troubled.
“This lowly subject, this lowly subject…”
He Qingrong hesitated, unable to speak. Wang Chong instantly felt his ill foreboding get even worse.
Wang Chong felt his heart sink. If He Qingrong really didn’t want to go, he would have immediately refused and showed no hesitation. There was clearly a problem.
Wang Chong subconsciously turned to King Song, and at almost the same time, King Song looked in Wang Chong’s direction with severe shock in his eyes. He Qingrong was King Song’s man, and Wang Chong had always avoided involving himself too deeply in their affairs. But it was clear that something had gone wrong. The situation was completely different from what King Song had told Wang Chong.
The shock in King Song’s eyes told him everything. It was clear that he had also noticed He Qingrong’s peculiar attitude.
“Your Highness, this lowly subject is willing to head to Jiangnan to oversee the Imperial Court’s irrigation project!”
Finally, He Qingrong spoke, his words leaving everyone stunned. Jiang Yunrang and the other generals had their mouths agape, their bodies petrified. They had done all they could to help He Qingrong deal with King Qi’s men, never imagining that there would be a problem with He Qingrong himself.
In truth, even Zhou Taiqin and the other civil officials were stunned by He Qingrong’s answer. When everyone had been endlessly arguing, He Qingrong had surprised everyone.
“All officials have heard this. Lord He, since your mind is made up, this prince will agree to the proposal! In five days, you must make your preparations and head for Jiangnan. The measures against the floods are linked to the well-being of the country and the lives of millions of people. Such a large project is certain to take a large amount of time. You must put all your mind into supervising this project!”
Before Wang Chong, King Song, Zhangchou Jianqiong, or anyone else could speak, the First Prince had seized his chance and settled the matter.
“Many thanks, Your Highness! He Qingrong will not fail at this mission, and will do all in his power to complete this task!”
The hall was deathly still, everyone staring at He Qingrong’s bowed and reverential figure. At that moment, Wang Chong felt as if He Qingrong had breathed a sigh of relief, like a heavy burden had been lifted off his shoulders. But a moment later, He Qingrong raised his head, and Wang Chong clearly saw him shoot an apologetic glance at King Song.
Wang Chong seemed to realize something and fell silent.
Although He Qingrong’s ‘betrayal’ had caught everyone by surprise, there was no doubt that he had his own troubles.
A moment later, Wang Chong gazed up at the Grand Preceptor. He would never believe that the Grand Preceptor had casually asked this question. It was clear that he had already known what the answer would be.
And Wang Chong would never believe that the Grand Preceptor and King Qi had not done anything behind the scenes.
The most important part is coming!
Wang Chong glanced at the Grand Preceptor and King Qi once more. The First Prince had spoken up too promptly, and their plans had been so meticulous that in just a few moments, He Qingrong’s departure to the capital had been settled, with no one able to change it. However, Wang Chong keenly understood that things were far from over. The ‘removal’ of He Qingrong was only the formal opening to the true court debate today.
Everything was only beginning.
As expected, a moment later, Wang Chong heard another voice.
Minister of Works Zhang Lianchong suddenly stepped forward and said, “Your Highness, this subject has a memorial. Bright Minister He Qingrong was the member of the Secretariat responsible for filtering and handling the daily memorials. With He Qingrong gone, this position is vacant. The matters of the court cannot be delayed even for a day. This lowly subject proposes that a new person be recommended to replace Lord He in handling the affairs of the court.”
His words immediately caused a shift in the mood of the court.
The debate over He Qingrong was so intense because both sides had always been fiercely struggling over the post he occupied. Anyone who could replace him in this position would possess much more authority in the court.
At this moment, a voice broke the calm. “Your Highness, this subject has a memorial! Governor Ge Huan of Zhang Prefecture possesses outstanding abilities. He has administered the prefecture for many years and has made remarkable achievements. This subject recommends Ge Huan to replace He Qingrong!”
King Qi had still been venting his anger earlier, but after taking in a breath, he had calmed down and stepped forward. King Qi was scarcely able to conceal his desire for He Qingrong’s position, personally stepping forward to make a recommendation.
Upon hearing King Qi’s words, the Grand Preceptor, Li Linfu, and the First Prince all imperceptibly frowned.
This was not what they had previously discussed!
Governor Ge Huan of Zhang Prefecture had always been extremely close with King Qi. In the last few court debates, King Qi had already stepped forward several times to try and get Ge Huan into the Imperial Court. They hadn’t imagined that King Qi would try again as soon as he saw this new opening.
When it came to benefit, King Qi always placed his own interests above all, and his lack of care for the overarching situation had cropped up once again.
At almost the same moment, King Song stepped forward, his expression stern as he loudly said, “Your Highness, this subject objects! He Qingrong is only leaving the capital to supervise the irrigation project and has not resigned his post. There is no need to seek out a replacement. Moreover, Ge Huan only has experience in managing provinces and does not have the capability to handle the matters of the entire empire. This lowly subject believes that this proposal cannot be accepted! Please consider this!”